And the walls came tumbling down

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The demolition of the former Graham County Jail began Monday as heavy machinery began to remove parts of the building.

Demolition of old jail begins

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – The demolition of the former Graham County Sheriff’s Office/Jail at 523 10th Ave. began in earnest Monday as the first parts of the building were knocked down leaving rubble to be hauled away. 

Breinholt Contracting Company of Gilbert was awarded the demolition contract for $200,503. According to a supervisor at the job site, the demolition is expected to continue through the week and then the remaining rubble pile will still need to be removed. 

The demolition project includes asbestos removal, the complete destruction and removal of the existing building and basement, and backfilling the lot to leave a plain dirt lot ready for the construction of the new police department. 

The new, 6,000-square-foot facility will include a laundry room, meeting room exercise room, and will have secretarial staff secured behind glass like what was done at the new Graham County Sheriff’s Office and Adult Detention Facility. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: A semi-truck is loaded with concrete rubble ready to be removed Tuesday morning.

In addition to having a secure lobby, the new building will give the police space to handle interviews away from prying ears of the public, increase evidence storage abilities, and upgrade the look of the area across the street from Firth Park from the eyesore it currently is. 

The $2.56 million project will also update the existing 4,400-square-foot Safford Police Department, which is adjacent to the site and will continue to be used in conjunction with the new building. 

Tucson-based BWS Architects was previously awarded a $322,386 contract to design and administer construction. The company has been involved in the construction of various police facilities in southern Arizona and it will handle all the bids for contractors. Construction is expected to take between 12 and 16 months. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The demolition is expected to continue throughout the week and be followed up by the removal of the leftover rubble and backfilling the basement to prepare the lot for the new Safford Police Department construction.